It’s been a week of highs and lows

Herefordshire said goodbye to Mike Hamilton this week, one of life’s gentleman. I had the privilege of knowing him following an interview I did with him on radio when he first set up the veg box scheme Flights Orchard Organics. From there I worked with him when he did cookery demonstrations for Heart of England Fine Foods (HEFF) and then laughed with him when he became a friend with that big beaming smile of his. The celebration of his life was held last Tuesday and it was standing room only which in itself was a true mark of the man. 

Glyn and I have just spent two days at Staffordshire County Show working with the Cookery Theatre which is based in the Food Hall. I do think, and this goes for all county shows, they should give priority to their local producers to be in the main area and then if not full, offer it out to others. Was lovely to meet a couple of new chefs in the form of Rayeesa from Rayeesa’s Indian Kitchen at Mordiford who we’ll see again at Shobdon Food Festival, and the rather gorgeous Marcus Bean from New Inn, Baschurch. I predict a sweet-smelling future for this chap, who is not only talented and good-looking, but lovely with it, and that doesn’t often happen.

It’s been weird not having the dogs at home having dropped them off at my Sisters for the week, just wouldn’t be fair for them to be at home with us away so much. Going to be seeing the ladies from the Prostate Cancer Widows Support Group tomorrow of which I’m proud to be Patron and then somewhere in between it’s all change again for the cows as we yet again move them so they have a bit of grass to eat. It’s lovely to have the sunshine but we still need more rain to get it growing, the rate we’re going we’ll have to feed them hay!

Have had confirmation today that I’ll be yet again compering for the fabulous Herefordshire Food Festival in October, and it’ll involve working up close and personal with chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, I do so love my job!

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Not enough hours in a ‘May’

I definitely have a weakness for old farm equipment having just added a vintage potato grader to our collection, not sure where it’s going exactly as it’s not like a new pair of shoes you can hide in the wardrobe only to bring them out and tell the other half you’ve had them ages! Been a busy few weeks what with the Spring Show at Malvern which I always enjoy, especially when it involves working alongside the lovely James Alexander Sinclair and Joe Swift. Had the pleasure of working with Mike Dilger for the first time too which was enjoyable and it was lovely to see so many youngsters getting involved with the nature trails he hosted. Staying with all things gardening for a moment, must say Congratulations to Cleve West for winning not only Gold for his garden at Chelsea Flower Show but for Best in Show overall and Paul Hervey Brookes who designed the RNIB garden won a Silver Gilt.

Ludlow Spring Festival was a first for us this year as usually it clashes with Malvern, but me and him ran the cookery stage which was fun and always nice when you don’t have to travel too far to get home and put your feet up. Birmingham Symphony Hall was the destination last Sunday for the Worcestershire Young Musicians Gala Concert and yet again the quality defied their ages. This year we had the youngest ever participant at the age of 4, ably assisted by her teddy bear Fluffy who went to every rehearsal and sure enough was there on the night too. I got my own dressing room again which was very swish and my name on the door too, only problem was their towels are just a little too big to get in my bag.

Looking forward to the first ever Malvern Food Festival this Saturday, I’ll be there chatting during the cookery demonstrations for Heart of England Fine Foods and on Monday, Glyn and I will be working at the Asparagus Festival at Breforton with our old pal Felice Tocchini, so should be fun.

Away from work, we’ve had to move the cows back home a bit earlier than planned but like many areas in the country, the grass just isn’t growing and sheep wise, hopefully we’ll be able to get them shorn fairly soon. Still wondering what gender one of the four chicks born two months ago is, we’ve definitely got two pullets and a cockerel and then whatever this one chooses to become, I’m sure we’ll find out soon.

It’s Friday again!

Huge thank you to Heart of England Fine Foods for inviting me to be a judge for Herefordshire and Worcestershire’s tastiest sausage competition. There were 7 of us in all, including a couple of ladies from Farm Stay, Andy Link from Riverside Inn at Aymestrey and Neil Chambers from the Handmade Scotch Egg Company. We had 49 bangers to judge so with all the pieces we ate put together means we probably had 9 full size ones each! Having done a smaller competition last year, I knew not to wear freshly washed jeans and to keep a napkin handy to one side for those that weren’t quite as tasty as the others. Next week sees the final in Birmingham which I’m hosting and not chomping, although if I’m honest, last time it took me a good 4 months before I ate another sausage. I’ve just booked tickets to see funny man Milton Jones in May and it’s Telford we’ll head due to closer venues being booked. It’s a nice venue Oakengates, as long as everyone wears slippers as it can get a bit noisy when folks either go to the bar or to use the facilities. At home, the animals are coping with the change in weather with a trip to get more hay in the morning. I knew the price would go up, but at an average of £100 per tonne it’s very expensive. At least having the sheep with the cows means there is no waste as they don’t half tidy up, it’s like having 3 woolly ‘Henry’s’ without the plug!